Daring to Dream Big at Melton's Healthy Living Festival

Posted on 30 October 2017 by Angela Mallon

Circus big top

Hundreds of local children took to the stage, some for the first time ever, when they performed in the ‘big top’ as part of a two-day Dream Big festival, held at Melton’s Mt Carberry Reserve last month.

Mackillop Family Services is one of the local service providers who support Dream Big, a celebration of arts and wellbeing for local schools and organised by the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and Melton South residents.

Dream Big is the highlight of Healthy Living Festival, which has been running in Melton South for the last four years. Since 2014 a diverse team of local and visiting artists have worked together with 400-700 students per year, across 8 school sites. The Festival celebrates artistic activities and encourages kids in the community to get involved in a very mindful way so that they feel better about themselves and find creative solutions to challenges they encounter.

Dream Big encourages teams of students to actively engage in exploring arts techniques including dance, drama, music, movement, role play, circus, mask-making, mosaic, multimedia, painting, puppetry and poetry. Teams use these techniques to explore mental health issues in highly creative, problem-solving, solution focused, health promoting ways and have fun at the same time. The festival finishes with a showcase of performance and exhibition events to share and celebrate diversity and common humanity. Students’ families and the local community are all encouraged to join in and attend the performances.

RCH Mental Health’s John Lane, Artistic Coordinator for Festival for Healthy Living, has seen how taking part has positively impacted on local children, “For many kids, it was the first time they experienced being ‘centre stage’ for a positive reason. Preparing for and participating in the “Big Top” performance created a strong commitment to achieving a goal and the skills of literacy, teamwork, listening, perseverance, creativity, tolerance were woven throughout the process. It is fantastic to see shy students became confident presenters and build on and use the skills they gained in performing in other aspects of their school life.

Dream Big also allows Koorie students to celebrate and share their culture in a uniquely created way – whilst being centre stage and proud of who they are, and importantly have it celebrated by other students.”

Robyn Davis, MacKillop’s Coordinator Integrated Family Services, Melton is delighted to be part of this innovative approach to supporting children and young people’s wellbeing, “Key to the success of the Healthy Living Festival and Dream Big is having the whole community involved. Schools worked hard to integrate the objectives of the festival with the primary learning outcomes expected of them which has resulted in long tern benefits for everyone involved.

“The whole festival allows kids to build lovely memories which will stay with them always and helps them to have pride in themselves, their friends and their local community.”